After a week spent in maintenance, waiting for a part to arrive from across The Pond, we finally were on our way to the east coast late Thursday evening. Since it was such an unavoidable late start, we only went half-way and stopped for the night in Champaign, Illinois. At least this would get us to Oxford, Maine at a decent time the next morning. We woke up early and continued another two hours to the south-western corner of one of the most northern states in our union. We were blessed to have nice, dry weather. The runway is so short that we couldn't have landed with any moisture on the ground. The usual landing distance for our Beechjet is around 4,000 feet, and this runway was less than 3,000! I've been having nightmares about this approaching day, that's for dang sure. Before we left Phoenix, we stripped the airplane of anything and everything not necessary for flight. It's all in the trunk of my car as I speak, which is now resulting in a different kind of nightmare. I don't know if you know this about me, but I like to be clean and organized. Throwing all unnecessary contents of an eight-passenger jet into my car in the middle of the night doesn't qualify as neat and orderly. It gives me the willies.
Anyway, back to the topic of the post...we landed at Oxford at about 10:30 in the morning on Friday. Just a few minutes later, our company's Pilatus airplane landed (the timing was purely coincidental). It is staying for a week to get warranty work done for paint from last year by the same folks. I have never met any of the Pilatus pilots, so this was a real treat. Our new paint scheme is based loosely on the Pilatus, and it was fun to see it in person and approve the colors! I also picked out the new interior of my airplane, to finally get rid of the old, dirty, used-to-be-blue gray carpet. I am still in shock at the fact that my impossible-to-keep-clean ultra suede sidewalls will soon be a thing for the history books! Actually, it's so ugly that I doubt any books would stoop to such a low level of toleration. The new tans and off-white colors that were selected will be gorgeous and easy to love. Dark tan carpet will hide much more wear and tear. It's going to beautiful and has been a long time coming. I cannot wait to see the finished product.
After a few hours of selecting colors and making final arrangements, we took a taxi for an hour drive to the nearest major airport, Portland, Maine. After a short and painless wait in line for TSA security, I grabbed a hot chocolate and enjoyed some people-watching before boarding a flight to Chicago. I had time to walk from one gate to the next in my first visit to O'Hare, and soon I was on an Airbus 320 on my way home. I landed at 11:04 PM and took a taxi all the way to Willy-Gateway to pick up my car. After a thirty-minute drive home, I finally crawled into bed with my heater husband (who had also just returned from a business trip) around 1:00 AM. What a fun-filled few days! I can't wait to see my new baby.
Perhaps the best news is that, because of the length of time to completely plastic surgery an airplane inside and out, I have at least the next six weeks off from work. I cannot even fathom how wonderful it will feel to know I won't be called any second to jet off to some location three time zones away. I am slightly Type-A and love schedules, so being on-call 24/7 is always a struggle for me. I am sure I will miss work, too, as I always do! However, it couldn't have been better timing to get this retreat from work over the holidays! What a great present.